If you’ve ever struggled with finding the motivation to practice yoga at home – I hear you! This blog is going to give you 6 actionable steps you can take to help you build the consistent yoga practice you’ve been wanting, but struggling to create. Forget motivation – we’re going to be talking about creating HABITS. Here are my 6 tips to create consistent habits that build your at home yoga practice.
1. Find a Trigger
What do I mean by this? One of the best ways to start a new habit is to pair it with something you always do. So for example, if I want to start a meditation practice before sleep, I might pair it with something I always do before sleep, like brush my teeth. So I’ll say to myself, “every night after I brush my teeth, I will meditate for 5 minutes.”
I’ve mentioned Jame’s Clear before (head to this blog post about fixing your posture and flexibility if you want more on him), but he is like the king of habit formation in my opinion. The formula he suggests for this is:
“When situation X arises, I will perform response Y.”
An additional element that helps cement this habit formation process is adding a time and location to where you will perform said habit. So the formula for this might look like:
“When situation X arises, I will perform response Y at [TIME] in [LOCATION]”
Basically the more specific you can be, the more likely you are to create and maintain this habit.
So within the context of starting or continuing a yoga practice, your sentence might look like this:
“When stress arises, I will do a child’s pose”
Sometimes just starting by doing 1 simple thing that takes up little time will lead you to continue to do more because it feels good and is helping. Often times starting is the hardest part.
If you want to be more specific like the second example, your sentence could look like:
“After breakfast, I will do 10 minutes of yoga at 8am every Monday Wednesday and Friday in my living room.”
James Clear explains why this is helpful in his book Atomic Habits (which if you haven’t read this yet, go out and get yourself a copy because it is amazing). He says,
“Being specific about what you want and how you will achieve it helps you say no to things that derail progress, distract your attention, and pull you off course. We often say yes to little requests because we are not clear enough about what we need to be doing instead. When your dreams are vague, it’s easy to rationalize little exceptions all day long and never get around to the specific things you need to do to succeed.”
2. Put it in Your Calendar
When we have an important meeting, we put it in our calendar so we don’t forget about it. We block that time off for the meeting and make it a priority. There’s no reason we can’t also do that with a yoga practice. If you really want to make it a priority, then put a time in your calendar and block that time off for yourself. You’re more likely to do it if it’s written down.
Adding to this idea, you could also create a habit calendar for yourself. I think most people like to check things off of to do lists – it gives us a sense of accomplishment, so you could create a similar thing with a habit calendar. Every day you do your yoga practice, give yourself a red X. Every day you were supposed to do your yoga practice but didn’t, give yourself a black circle. This is a good way of staying accountable and seeing how often you’re actually doing what you said you were going to do.
3. Make it Easy
This particular suggestion might not be easy for everyone depending on your living situation – this was only something I could implement during the pandemic as I’m no longer confined to my small NYC studio apartment. But the idea here is to make it easy for you to get on the mat and do some yoga.
So an example of this that I personally have used is that I leave my mat out and my props out. If I don’t have to organize anything to start, it makes it easier to get on the mat in the first place. But like I said before, I’m lucky to have the space to do this right now.
Another way I’ve been implementing this is with my physical therapy exercises. I haven’t put my bands away – I keep them next to my bed and at night before I get into bed I do my PT exercises. So this is incorporating #1 and #3. My trigger is getting into bed. My sentence is “Before I get into bed I will do my PT exercises” and then the bands are right there so I don’t have any excuses really.
Without space, you could do this – keep a yoga strap next to your bed and do a few leg stretches before bed. You may end up doing a whole practice because like I said earlier, starting is the hardest part.
4. Give Yourself a Reward
Want a new bag? Want a new shirt? Only buy it for yourself if you practice X amount of yoga this week. Give yourself a reward to look forward to and you’re more likely to step on your mat.
5. Implement the 2-Minute Rule
A suggestion that James Clear has in his book is to implement something he calls the 2 minute rule. Here’s what he says:
“Even when you know you should start small, it’s easy to start too big. When you dream about making a change, excitement inevitably takes over and you end up trying to do too much too soon. The most effective way I know to counteract this tendency is to use The Two-Minute Rule, which states ‘When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.”
How would you do this with yoga? He actually uses it as an example. He says
“Do 30 minutes of yoga” becomes “Take out my yoga mat”
He goes on to explain that “the idea is to make your habits as easy as possible to start. Anyone can meditate for one minute, read one page, or put one item of clothing away. And…this is a powerful strategy because once you’ve started doing the right thing, it is much easier to continue doing it.”
So if you’re like me and you live in a space that’s too small to keep your mat out, the 2 minute rule might be a good place for you to start. Make it a habit of taking your yoga mat out X days a week. Again, starting is the hardest part.
6. Join a Community
I personally think this is one of the best ways to stay consistent with something. This is why people struggle to practice yoga at home but have no problem going to a yoga studio. Being surrounded by people and being a part of a community is part of why people keep coming back to the same yoga studios (other than liking the teachers). Unfortunately because of COVID a lot of us don’t have that option, depending on what state or country you’re in.
That being said, I (and I’m sure other teachers) have started building these communities in our zoom classes. For me personally, I have had new students and old students meeting each other on zoom and getting to know people they never would have been introduced to because they practiced in different spaces. We’ve created a small community that looks forward to seeing each other and saying hi to one another – people who were total strangers before COVID. To be entirely honest, this community has been one of the best side effects of COVID and wasn’t something I expected to happen, but am unbelievably happy and proud of the community that’s been created in my zoom classes and in my online yoga studio.
If you can find a community that is warm and welcoming via zoom, then you’ll begin to look forward to seeing them every week. You’ll miss having them in class with you when they have something else going on, and it will feel similar to the community created inside yoga studios, which will all help you continue to come back and stay consistent.
If you want to join my community of wonderful humans of varying ages and experience, I would LOVE to have you. You can head over here to learn more about zoom group yoga classes, and over here to learn more about joining my virtual yoga studio.
So those are my suggestions! I hope you’ve found this helpful, and I’d love to hear from you either in the comments below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any tips you’ve implemented to get yourself to stay consistent with your yoga practice at home.
As always, feel free to reach out with any questions!
Till next time,